Breaking down barriers to jobs for disabled Scots

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Jeane Freeman explains why the upcoming Disability Employment Congress is the next step to getting more disabled Scots into work

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27th April 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

More than a million disabled people contribute to Scotland’s communities adding talent, diversity and richness to our society. Yet too many are unable to make the contribution they want, or live their lives as they want to – including having meaningful employment – because there are barriers in their way. Our job is to work together to remove those barriers.

Of course businesses have a vital role to play in this, but it is also up to the Scottish Government and the public sector to lead by example. That is why events like the Scottish Disability Congress on Monday are so important; to share ideas, best practice and celebrate progress.

Jeane Freeman, minister for social security

Jeane Freeman, minister for social security

The Congress was a specific action in A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People, the delivery plan we published in December 2016.

The plan states that we will take action to at least halve the employment gap between disabled people and the rest of the working population, that we will offer the highest level of financial support to disabled Modern Apprentices and that we will pilot a work experience programme specifically for young disabled people.

And we are making real, meaningful progress.

We have launched Fair Start Scotland, our new devolved and wholly voluntary employment support service and have committed an additional £20m per annum over the next three years to this service over and above the funding received from the UK Government.

Building on a pilot programme delivered by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and Inclusion Scotland in 2016-17, we are also delivering a disability internship programme, providing disabled people with 120 employment opportunities in the third and public sectors and in politics over the period 2017-2021.

One intern, who came into the Scottish Government through the programme and was kept on after the initial three months, is now part of the team organising Monday’s congress, helping employers to hire more disabled people.

The delivery plan also outlined a two-year NHS internship programme for disabled graduates, delivered in partnership with NHS Scotland and the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living Equality Academy. People who have taken part in the programme have already had great success in gaining permanent employment.

Young disabled people in Scotland now receive the highest level of modern apprenticeship funding, which we have extended up to the age of 30.

And we are offering real practical support – both financially, through our Business Engagement Fund and otherwise – to businesses and employers to continue building on this progress.

We can only continue this progress by working together across the public sector and with the direct involvement of disabled people. Strong collaboration is essential – and it’s what events like Monday’s Congress are all about.

Jeane Freeman is the Scottish Government minister for social security